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Hyperlinking and Deeplinking
Ticketmaster v. Microsoft [1997]

Shetland Times Oct 1996

This is a judgment decided by the Court in Scotland. This case involves facts of deeplinking but the determination is not based on deeplinking. Rather it is based on copyright infringement.

The defendant, Shetland News is a news web-site on the Internet. The Shetland Times newspaper operated the Shetland Times Online news web-sites with headlines. Shetland Times alleged that Shetland News has linked to the Shetland Times Web site and displayed its headlines without any attribution.The Shetland News used the headlines of Shetland Times as the text of the hypertext links. The headlines of the hypertext links on the defendant's web-site is an exact copying of the headlines found at the Plaintiff's web-site.

When clicking on the Defendant's hyperlink, it will directly lead the user to the news content on the Plaintiff's web-site. Such leading has therefore bypassed the Shetland Times front page and other pages in between which consist of advertisement of Plaintiff's commercial advertisers.

In October 1996 Scotland's Court of Session ordered an injunctiona against the Defendant and commented by saying that it was, "finding it plausible that a headline is a literary work and that the News's practice of incorporating the Times's headlines verbatim in its link lines violated the latter's copyright" (Kaplan, 1997). The Scotish Court did not rule on the matter of deep linking.

After the Court's ruling the Shetland News terminated its links to the Shetland Times Web page.Shetland News like many other web-site owners or webmasters, may be of the view that copying the headlines and putting on them hyperlinks are nothing wrong. Such linking in fact has the advantage of bringing more traffic and hence value to the Plaintiff's web-site.